That feeling of uneasiness, waiting for something bad to happen, being on edge, your tolerance levels have dropped, you cannot relax or concentrate, you are not sleeping well and may have indigestion and a racing heart.
You may wake early almost panicking about something that has not yet happened being immediately on hyper-alert as an adrenaline rush hits, it may be a reaction to trauma or loss, financial or health stress or even hormonal surges.
This level of stress is exhausting generally coming at a time when we are already under stress and we start to feel as if we cannot cope.
Physically, your anxiety may have caused you to breath rapidly try the 7/11 method to calm things down, reach for something a pillow or a sweater or use the fold of your elbow, close your eyes bring your elbow or cushion or whatever up to your closed mouth, breathe in through your nose counting 7, breathe out also through your nose counting 11. If 7/11 is too much at first try 3/5 and work up.
Mentally, one way to look at the issues that are troubling you is to get a pen and paper, draw two columns titled ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’. Think hard try to identify which thoughts are fact, which fiction, when we are stressed it is easy to confuse the two anticipating peoples reactions and future events believing the worst will happen.
Another method is to count achievements, things you are proud of, consider why they made you feel good and how you could get some more of that in your life. Be realistic, we cannot change the past, ‘if only’s’ just make us feel worse, is there a different way of looking at it, did you take the only route possible? Can you see a way forward that will bring benefits or acceptance?
Writing things down is so helpful, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece but putting it down in black and white helps to see it from a different perspective and can stop it from going round and round in your head and if its at night will provide an example of those thoughts that keep you awake.
If you cannot sleep don’t lie there gnashing your teeth, get up, make a cup of tea (Decaf please), and write a list of everything you did that day even the small stuff or, read a book or run a bath, do not switch on your computer unless you are not planning to try and go back to sleep.
Generally we worry less about the things we can control than the things we can’t, worrying more about anticipated events than the ones that have occurred, fretting about fiction rather than fact.
When we worry we often take responsibility for things that are not down to us often wanting to feel guilt to make us feel worse, there are many things beyond our control, if guilt is your major source of anxiety why not adapt the fact and fiction format to include responsible for/ not responsible for.
Negative thinking clouds the mind and makes us blind to the good things in life, and those thoughts often stem from irrational or misguided thinking such as ‘ awful things always happen to me’ or ‘everybody should like me and its unbearable if someone doesn’t’, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), can be most helpful with this.
As a therapist I often use the techniques of CBT and can teach you to use them but, why not Google it to consider whether it would work for you?
The suggestions above are for general anxiety not for PTSD, PND Panic Attacks or levels of anxiety where flashbacks may occur.